Glossary Terms

Net Metering and Net Billing

The concept of net metering programs is to allow utility customers to generate their own electricity from renewable resources, such as small wind turbines and solar electric systems. The customers send excess electricity back to the utility when their wind system, for example, produces more power than they need. Customers can then get power from the utility when their wind system doesn’t produce enough power. In effect, net metering allows the interconnected customer to use the electrical grid as a storage battery. This helps customers get higher (retail) value for more of their self-generated electricity. In practice, net metering and net billing vary from state to state based on rules for such arrangements defined by the state. For information about your particular state visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy: www.dsireusa.org.

Multiplier Effect

The term “multiplier effect” as it pertains to the local economy and wind project development describes how increased spending in one part of a economy starts a chain reaction that results in an overall increase in economic activity. When a consumer spends money to buy goods or services at a local business, the local business will, in turn, spend some of this money locally on additional goods and services, and the local providers of these goods and services will likewise spend some of this money locally. In this way, money recirculates within local economies, creating wealth broadly through ongoing cycles of buying and selling. In contrast, when a consumer spends money outside of his or her local economy, it does not benefit local businesses or the employees of these businesses but instead benefits individuals outside of the community. For example, when the income from a wind energy project is spent for goods and services provided primarily by non-local entities, the local community benefits less than if these goods and services are provided locally. This concept explains why outside ownership of a natural resource often results in local poverty despite the great wealth that results from extraction of the resource – most of the wealth from the resource flows permanently outside the local community leaving little available to recirculate within and thereby enrich the local community.

Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS)

Businesses can recover investments in certain property through depreciation deductions. The MACRS establishes a set of class lives for various types of property, ranging from three to 50 years, over which the property may be depreciated. For solar, wind, and geothermal property placed in service after 1986, the current MACRS property class is five years. With the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, fuel cells, microturbines, and solar hybrid lighting technologies are now classified as 5-year property as well. 26 USC § 168 references 26 USC § 48(a)(3)(A) with respect to classifying property as "5-year property" and EPAct 2005 added these technologies definition of energy property in § 48 as part of the business energy tax credit expansion.

For more information, see IRS Publication 946, IRS Form 4562: Depreciation and Amortization, and Instructions for Form 4562. The IRS web site provides a search mechanism for forms and publications. Enter the relevant form, publication name or number, and click "GO" to receive the requested form or publication. Source: The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy: www.dsireusa.org

Minnesota Flip

The Minnesota Flip is a business model designed to help local wind project owners with minimal tax appetite pair up with a larger entity that has a more substantial tax burden. Because the tax credits available to project owners are proportional to their level of ownership in the project, the tax motivated entity is the majority owner in the first ten years of production and pays a “management fee” to the local owner in lieu of production payments. Once the tax incentive period ends after year 10, the majority ownership of the project “flips” to the local owner, and the tax-motivated investor takes a minority share in the project. For more information, see “The Minnesota Flip” section of the Toolbox.

Merchant

Refers to wind projects where a private contractor builds a new facility without a power purchase agreement and guaranteed revenue stream. In a deregulated power market a merchant wind projects sell their electricity at spot market prices.

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